A RETIRED electrical engineer who died of asbestos-related cancer believed it was caused by his work at a Hereford metals factory more than 60 years ago, an inquest heard last week.

Jon Talbot had been concerned that he might one day suffer from asbestos exposure ever since its dangers first became known in the mid-1970s, the inquest was told.

He was 84 when he died at home on February 9 this year from mesothelioma – a form of lung cancer for which the only known cause is asbestos exposure.

The inquest was told that Mr Talbot had worked from 1957 to 1960 as a laboratory instrument technician for Henry Wiggin and Co, now Special Metal Wiggin in Holmer Road, and he handled asbestos-coated rope and string extensively.


In 1976, when the dangers of asbestos were becoming known, Mr Talbot, of Barton Road, Tewkesbury, wrote to the company expressing his concern that he might one day be affected.

In his letter he told the company that his work had included sawing materials which were asbestos-based and he recalled that the ropes he used were blue asbestos.

Mr Talbot asked the company: "Please could you advise me as to any action I should take medically and also any action to screen personnel who have been exposed to asbestos?"

In reply, he received a letter dated December 1976 from Henry Wiggins and Co accepting that asbestos exposure was now regarded as a possible hazard to health.

The letter said that there had not been the concerns about asbestos in 1957 that there were now, 20 years later.


It added: "The advice we have given to people in the same position as you is to have a chest X-ray at yearly or two yearly intervals."

The letter also advised that if he was a smoker he should stop because the risks were much greater in smokers.

The assistant Gloucestershire Coroner Roland Wooderson noted that on the letter Mr Talbot had written "After receiving this, I did have an X-ray and it proved negative. However, there was subsequent publicity that X-ray systems are generally unable to detect asbestos problem anyway."

The inquest heard that Mr Talbot's death in February after a six-month period during which he had lost weight and suffered shortness of breath. A post-mortem showed death to be due to mesothelioma resulting from asbestos fibre exposure.

Recording a narrative conclusion the coroner said: "Correspondence sent by him to his former employer indicated that he believed he had been exposed to asbestos in the course of his employment."